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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Narcissi to Beat the Winter Doldrums

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Deep into winter, when skies can be very gray and temperatures frigid, flowers are just the thing to brighten the inside and to bring warmth to the house. Narcissus bulbs, also called paperwhites, are some of the easiest bulbs to force for indoor blooming when the outside landscape is dull, lifeless, and dreary. A great way to beat the winter doldrums.

These were planted in mid-December and are in my kitchen sunspace that gets bright light even on cloudy days.  The sun is bright most of the time in north Texas. There are 232 days per year classified as sunny days (30% clouds or less).  

When traveling to other parts of the country, I realize I miss the sunny skies of Texas. I am Texan by choice brought here as a young bride over 43 years ago, but for many years I missed the flowers that grew in north Alabama that were nurtured by the abundance of rain under cloudy skies. I still miss the flowers, but have learned to love the sunshine more. 

Perhaps just as important as the bright light is for forcing bulbs is the potted bulbs are warmed from the solar heat coming through the windows and overhead skylights in the sunspace. 

If you live in areas that have really cold winters, consider watering your bulbs with at least room temperature water, instead of really cold water straight from the faucet, to mimic warming soil needed for bulbs to begin growing.  You may be very neat and careful when you water your plants, but I have a tendency to splash water outside the container.  That is why I use some kind of saucer like this oval platter underneath my containers to catch the splashes that can damage furniture.  Lesson learned the hard way.  

Not only do the blooms cheer up the kitchen, but these smell so good. The fragrance of some narcissus varieties is very strong, actually overpowering, but these have a light fragrance. 

To help keep the stems upright, I rotate these every day. See the stems leaning to the right, toward the sun?  

Though the winter is cold and some years bitter cold with snow and ice, the narcissus blooms help me beat the winter doldrums and make me happy.  

The only snowflakes I have seen this winter are the blue and white glass ornaments hanging above the bowl of narcissus bulbs.... but the winter is not over yet. 

Should we get bitter cold, snowy, icy days, I will just close the shades to help insulate our house and narcissi from the cold and retain the solar heat...  and enjoy the narcissus bulbs and snowflake ornaments inside while winter rages outside. 

Want to grow your own narcissus bulbs inside?  See these two posts for directions and inspiration. 

Please join me at these inspiring sites...




  1. I have quite a few indoor bulbs starting to flower. They brighten up a dreich Scottish winter.

  2. Your narcissi are beautiful, Judith. Yours are standing so straight and tall. That's always a challenge for me. Aren't you loving this winter we are having? Not too bad at all!

  3. What a wonderful arrangement! Last fall I planted over 100 bulbs outdoors expecting to see loveliness in the spring. Low and behold it was such a warm fall and early winter they bloomed all of December. It was such a treat.

  4. I love the contrast of the fresh blooms against the winter scene outside. Beautiful.

  5. How pretty and they do have the sweetest scent. I'm feeling a bit dull this week and you've given me an idea. I think I'll splurge on some flowers when I grocery shop tomorrow. Hugs, Diane

  6. These are beautiful and one of my favorite blooms during the Winter months.
    How do you keep your paperwhites from falling over?

  7. Judith, I just love these paperwhites. They are so beautiful and add such an elegant touch! Gorgeous indeed for the winter doldrums!

  8. As much as I love the flowers of spring and summer, there is just something so very special about bulbs forced in winter. I love them all, especially the hyacinths that smell so wonderful.

  9. I have a couple of paperwhites blooming in the garden. Or, I guess I should say I did have because it rained the last two days and I spotted them just before the rain began today and they weren't look too good. I'm not even sure how they started growing in the garden.

  10. Very beautiful! Our change of seasons here is so subtle, we almost always have something in bloom. Right now there are yellow lemons that need to be picked making for a bright corner in the back of our yard. Of course, the blooms will come soon for next year's crop.

  11. Gorgeous, I love paperwhites! Happy to have found your blog :)


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